Taveras chief of staff leaving to launch consulting firm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The man largely credited with helping save Providence from bankruptcy is leaving City Hall.

Michael D’Amico, who has served as the city’s director of administration since Mayor Angel Taveras took office in 2011, plans to launch a consulting firm that will specialize in finance and accounting, union contracts, and labor and government relations.

His last day with the city is March 14, but he has already been hired to consult on the 2014-15 fiscal year budget.

“Providence has made great progress in just three years,” D’Amico said. “It has been a privilege to work with so many talented and passionate people to address the challenges we have faced and to secure a brighter future for our capital city. The time is right for me to return to the private sector.”

Providence faced a $110-million structural deficit when Taveras entered City Hall, which it slashed by raising taxes, renegotiating union contracts, reaching payment agreements with the city’s tax-exempt colleges and universities and agreeing to pension changes with the unions and retirees. The city also made deep spending cuts and closed schools.

On its 2012-13 fiscal year audit, the city reported a $1.6 million surplus.

“I am very proud of the work we have accomplished to address Providence’s Category 5 fiscal hurricane and put our city on firm financial ground,” Taveras said. “Michael’s continued work as a contract consultant to the city will assure a seamless transition to new leadership in the mayor’s office as we prepare the fiscal year 2015 budget and continue our daily focus on moving Providence forward.”

D’Amico and Taveras have been friends since the two attended Classical High School together in the 1980s, but D’Amico was living in Pennsylvania and working as the vice president and general manager of the U.S. division of Johnson Matthey Emission Control Technologies until Taveras wooed him back to Providence.

D’Amico, who earned $175,000 annually, has also served as the mayor’s chief of staff since 2012, but clashed with several of the mayor’s top aides during that time span. Arianne Lynch, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, Matt Jerzyk, a deputy city solicitor, and Will Farrell, who served as the mayor’s legislative liaison, have all left City Hall in recent months.

Gonzalo Cuervo, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff since 2011, has been appointed to replace D’Amico. Lawrence Mancini, the city’s current finance director, will be the acting director of administration. Ani Haroian, the city’s director of community relations, will now serve as Taveras’s deputy chief of staff.

D’Amico’s announcement came on the same day that Liz White, the mayor’s deputy director of communications, announced she was leaving to run City Council President Michael Solomon’s campaign for mayor.

Taveras is running in the Democratic primary for governor this year.

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

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